Cloud used as a ‘buzzword’ to confuse buyers, says Dundee University CIO

It is "very common and very frustrating" to encounter vendors wrongly claiming their on premise solutions are cloud services, according to Dundee University CTO Paul Saunders.

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Vendors use the term cloud as a misleading “buzzword” to confuse buyers, Dundee University CTO Paul Saunders, a former platform lead for Yahoo, has said.

The university is currently moving all of its off-the-shelf systems to cloud and has encountered a number of suppliers mislabelling on premise services as cloud, he told ComputerworldUK.

Dundee was the first university to move to Microsoft Office 365 in 2011. It recently signed a deal to offer Box file sharing software to its 25,000 students and staff, as part of plans to move to cloud.

However Saunders said it is “very common and very frustrating” to come across vendors wrongly claiming to offer cloud services.

“When I say cloud, I mean multi-tenanted, pay by the drink. I never want to do another upgrade for the rest of my career. I don’t mean vendors who offer a system, run it for us and call it cloud,” he said.

“One company offered public cloud, private cloud or an ‘on premise’ cloud that we run ourselves. So it’s a buzzword that has confused everybody,” he added.

The university currently has seven data centres, but the plan is to eventually have just one, for high performance computing.

“Everything else we just need to give to people who run data centres, and they can deal with all of those headaches,” Saunders said.

Explaining the rationale for moving systems to cloud, he said: “Our strategy is customer-focused, and cloud makes it so much easier for us. We’re not in the business of running e-mail or file sync and share. Microsoft and Box can do those better than us.”

The university decided to go with Box for file sharing thanks to its “very good” pricing for higher education, its guarantees on security and the flexible options it offers to decide which users share which files, according to Saunders.

“It was the only one that met all of our security needs and would be as good as consumer offerings,” he added.

Saunders joined the university two years ago after an eight-year spell working in IT for US conglomerate Textron, before which he was platform lead for Yahoo.

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